Family Portrait

Interactive sound installation
3500 (w) x 5000 (d) x 3000 (h) mm
Stilts, rope, post colonial chairs, frame, telephones, custom circuitry

Family portrait is created out of absences rather than presences. It is a portrait of Burchell’s own family and other families who live in the South African diaspora. The installation explores the growing spaces between people and families as a result of diaspora. These between spaces are often filled with technologies like communication technologies, social networks and the Internet as represented by the phones. The phones, left behind in the sitters stead, are programmed as an interface between the absences inherent in the portrait and the presence of the participants. 

When an audience member steps inside the gilded frame a telephone rings. On answering the phone a voice is heard. As soon as the participant hangs up one phone, the next immediately rings. Different voices play at random on the three phones and speak with varying emotions from normal to anger, frustration and desperation as they struggle to communicate. This is repeated until the audience member decides to leave the framed space. 

“It is visually sumptuous, conceptually smart and technically well executed.”   - Art Times, 2007.